CyberFair Project ID: 3876

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Gua-A-He--The Legacy and The Prosperity of Taiwanese Opera
Category: 8. Local Music and Art Forms

School: Taipei Municipal Xi-Hu Elementary School
    Taipei, Taiwan, Taiwan

7 students, ages twelve-thirteen worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 14, 2005. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2005

Classes and Teachers: Ms. Huang, Su-Ya, Mr. Lee, Chun-Chih, Ms. Lin, Li-Shen

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Taiwanese Opera is very common in Taiwan. The most famous troupe is the Ming Hwa Yuan Taiwanese Opera Company from Pingtung County. Each year, the Ming Hwa Yuan keeps presenting unconventional new plays that successfully attract numerous audiences. The Ming Hwa Yuan integrates traditional and modern elements together with three-dimensional props and special effects in the drama. The Ming Hwa Yuan further grasps its audiences’ attention by applying abundant light and sound installation to reinforce the characters and plots of its dramas. The two talented daughters of the current chief of the Ming Hwa Yuan Company both went to Xi-Hu Elementary School. Because of this kinship, Xi-Hu Elementary School founded a Students’ Taiwanese Opera Club with full support from the Ming Hwa Yuan.

2. Summary of Our Project

Taiwanese Opera is popular due to its strong sense of grassroots and lively performance. Looking back on its transformation for the past century, including Local Taiwanese Opera, Outdoor-Stage Taiwanese Opera, Televised Taiwanese Opera, and Modern Theater House Taiwanese Opera, different types of Taiwanese Opera have its own unique ways of survival as well as its own particular dilemmas to deal with, such as extinction, deteriorated dramatic quality, etc. Through our research project, we hope to introduce Taiwanese Opera to more people by illustrating its history, development, characters, music for voices as well as its accompaniment from the perspectives and experiences of the Ming Hwa Yuan. Because the Ming Hwa Yuan has gone through lots of challenges and made a tremendous breakthrough, we believe that its experiences and perspectives will be a valuable asset for the preservation and promotion of Taiwanese Opera.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:more than 6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

As a public school in the metropolis of Taiwan, we have better developed Internet facilities in school. There are two computer labs and one well-equipped multimedia production lab in our school. We also have one computer per classroom, and one computer per teacher. In total, there are more than two hundred computers in our school, which is sufficient for teachers and students to use. In August, 1999, Department of Information Education, Education Department of Taipei City Government established an ADSL wire with the capacity of 1.5MB download and 384K upload. The whole school started to learn to use the Internet and acquire related knowledge from then on. Our school provided each teacher, faculty member, and student with a personal e-mail account, personal webpage as well as 120 MB Internet hard-drive (1GB for each teachers). Everyone in our school could produce their own website and sufficiently enjoy services from the Internet. We fully learn to use our given facilities. Teachers of computer science specialty tried their best to held various kinds of seminar, planning study courses, as well as a number of Internet application contests and activities, to comprehensively enhance everyone’s capacity of information technology.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

With the assistance from the Ming Hwa Yuan and other faculty members, we did not have much trouble gathering relevant information. However, we faced some challenges in having interview with some other important key roles in our research. Because most of the important members of the Ming Hwa Yuan live in Pingtung, in order to get personal interviews with them, we have to wait until they tour for performances to Taipei. As for other scholars, we interviewed Mayor of Taipei, Ma Ying-jeou, Commissioner of Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei Municipal Government, Liao Hsien-hao, professor Yang of Taipei Municipal Teachers College, and the author of the biography of Miss Suen Tsuei-feng, the celebrated diva of Taiwanese Opera. We especially owe our thanks to Department of Information Education, Education Department of Taipei City Government, which helped liaise between us and the Taipei City Government for us to get personal interviews with Mayor Ma and the Commissioner. Unfortunately, we still did not manage to interview the judge of National Local Drama Contest in 1982, professor Jien Shen-ren, and professor Wu Jing-ji, who highly recommend the Ming Hwa Yuan to us, due to prior engagements in their schedules.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

With full assistance and support from the Ming Hwa Yuan, we have learned that even when we are in the face extreme challenges, we should never give up what we are supposed to stick to, especially for the preservation of our traditional culture. It is the cohesion of the family that together, the Ming Hwa Yuan has created a new stage to perform. The hero and heroines of our research project are like our neighbors; this has made us feel like witnessing a legend happening right next door to us. Yet this next-door legend is so inspiring that we cannot help but thinking it over and over again. We sincerely hope that through our collaborative efforts, our traditional art will burgeon and prosper.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

Gua-A-He-The Legacy and The Prosperity of Taiwanese Opera is the theme of our research project in this 2005 CyberFair, mainly to study the history and development of Taiwanese Opera, as well as the characters, stagecraft and music for voices of Taiwanese Opera. Gua-A-He, namely, Taiwanese Opera is a traditional theatric form in Taiwan. In our Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum, Taiwanese Opera belongs to the category of dramatic performance of the Arts and Humanities Learning Area. Taipei Municipal Xi-Hu Elementary School founded the Students’ Taiwanese Opera Club in 1997. Until now, with constant support and assistance from the Ming Hwa Yuan theater troupe, this club has earned prestigious reputation nationwide and become the feature of our school. Hence, our school adopted Let’s Play Taiwanese Opera as the theme of our integrated curriculum, and enforced this dramatic performance into Learning Areas of Humanities, Languages Arts, Health and Physical Education as well as Integrative Activities. Besides participating regular related courses and learning activities, such as watching films of Taiwanese Opera, visiting rehearsals of Taiwanese Opera troupes, trying on costumes and playing with props to further experience being characters of Taiwanese Opera, singing chi zi diao, students also learn the history of Taiwanese Opera through books and the Internet. During our activities, students not only have to watch performances of Taiwanese Opera, but also have to actually experience what actors do-painting facial mask-like makeup, learning stagecraft, like Orchid Finger or Sword Finger. Our students have really enjoyed themselves in these activities.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

(A).The Internet:Collecting related website information via browsers; Contacting interviewees and team members and submitting reports on “Our Thoughts” by E-mail. (B).Digital Camera:Taking photographs of the interviewing process and artificial reef development. (C).Digital Video Cassette Camcorder:Shooting the entire interviewing process. (D).Image Capture Card:Capturing the film into computer processing and then burning it into video CDs, for students to arrange the interviewing contents. (E).Scanners:Scanning related information and photographs and then converting them into electronic files. (F).Computer Software:Processing and production of photographs, the film, and web pages using Photo Impact, Dreamweaver, Namo Webeditor, Flash MX, & Ulead Video Studio.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

Taiwanese Opera is not strange to our students. The chief of the Ming Hwa Yuan theater troupe, Mr. Chen Sheng-fu and the male lead of the Ming Hwa Yuan, Miss Suen Tsuei-feng live in our neighborhood. Besides understanding the Ming Hwa Yuan as a fan, our students also play Taiwanese Opera as one of the characters (Little Red Kids) to introduce Taiwanese Opera and the Ming Hwa Yuan to the public. Through our colleague’s contact, we went to interview Mr. Chen Sheng-fu at his place. To experience the live performance of the Ming Hwa Yuan on outdoor-stage, in October 16th, 2004, we went to Taipei County Stadium in Banchiao. Chief Chen Sheng-fu allowed us to go to the backstage and see actors make up and other staff work. Usually their back stage is staff only, however, he made an exception for our interviews. In December 18th, 2004, the Ming Hwa Yuan performed in Keelung City. We were there at three in the afternoon, three hours ahead of the scheduled time of the performance to start. However, there were already legions of audiences occupying seats. Later we found out that they were all very loyal fans to the Ming Hwa Yuan and they came from another county to see the Ming Hwa Yuan. Once they spent more than a thousand dollars on taxi just to catch up with the performance of the Ming Hwa Yuan. It sounded really amazing to us in the beginning, but after one actually experiences the powerful emotional connection that Taiwanese Opera draws upon them, no one can resist its rustic charm and sensation.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

Whatever we do leaves traces behind. In the process of doing this research project, we not only know more about Taiwanese opera, we are also deeply inspired by the successful experience of the Ming Hwa Yuan, and its founder Chen Ming-ji’s motto in life. In addition, we hope this research project will arouse more people’s attention on passing on Taiwanese Opera and promotion of Taiwanese Opera. We may not know how many people will be influenced by us, but at least we know that we ourselves, our families, school teachers and students are already inspired. Besides being a fan to Taiwanese Opera, we all think we have the responsibility to promote this precious traditional theatric form.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

In order to comprehensively our research project on our webpage, in addition to interviews, taking pictures, filming, and recording, we also referred to many related source materials and books. Based on the principle to respect Intellectual Property Right, we carefully use each photo, image, music and written words. The images on our website are partly taken by us, partly courtesy of the Ming Hwa Yuan. The music are personally played and authorized for us to record by the musician of the Ming Hwa Yuan, Mr. Chen Jian-cheng and Mr. Huang Jia-jiun. With all these materials, our website can display our project with great images and music. Some of the quotes on our website are authorized by Chief Chen Sheng-fu, the author of History of Taiwanese Opera, professor Yang Fu-ling of Taipei Municipal Teachers College, and the author of A Daughter of the Stage, Miss Huang Shiou-jin. Thus our website can be further enriched by more accurate information. Our conscientious attitude for our production is to respect the authors and a great opportunity for our students to learn about the importance of Intellectual Property Right.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Before doing this research project, we used to think that Taiwanese Opera is just a popular traditional theatric form. After our interview with professor Yang Fu-ling, we surprisingly found that Taiwanese Opera is not only popular in Taiwan but also popular in Mainland China. In 2004 Cross-Strait Taiwanese Opera Art Festival in China, there was a Top Ten Young Actors of Taiwanese Opera Contest. Thirty young talented actors of Taiwanese Opera from Taiwan, Xiamen, and Zhangzhou entered the contest. In the end, two of the top ten talented actors were from Taiwan, and eight from the mainland China. Although we were quite proud of our actors’ excellent achievement, we still felt that we need to work harder on cultivating more talents of Taiwanese Opera. This is also the purpose of our research project.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 3876)

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